Welcome back to the final instalment of my Couch to 5K series! You find my other posts in this series here if you want to know more about the program and my journey through it. As you might’ve guessed, this being my final post in the series does in fact mean I have finished the program and got the graduate badge! Yay! I’m officially a runner! While the program is called Couch to 5K, this is based on the assumption that 5K in 30 minutes is an achievable distance. The program focuses really on time spent running, rather than the distance, so finishing the program is no guarantee that you’ll actually hit that 5K mark. So, did I make it to that all-important 5K benchmark?
Week 7 is three runs of 25 minutes, all with the standard warm up and cool down walk for five minutes each. I was pretty scared about this week, because I was actually visiting family so I was running in a different environment, at different times of day, and when I tried the 25 minute run at the end of week 6, I took a walking break in the middle! The first of these three runs I did was round and round a playing field. It was a different experience, running on grass, and I found it was a bit easier on my legs. The main barrier (aside from psychological ones) I hit during running is really sore calf muscles, but I think the grass did make it easier, and I ran the full 25 minutes! The next run I did I went on another completely new route, and it was a bit of a mistake. I was after a straight road to run down, and I found one, but the path ran out about 7 minutes into the run, and then I was running either on a super narrow path where I was having to constantly bat bushes out of the way, or on extremely uneven grass, which was hurting my ankles. I made the full 25 minutes, but my pace was really affected by the terrain. So, for my third run, I found a different long road, and tried that instead. Much better! I found on both my second and third runs that I had a bit of a burst of energy towards the end, and upped my pace for the last minute of the run, as suggested by Jo Whiley in my ears. My third run of the week had a slightly longer cool down walk as I’d turned around halfway through the run, but my average pace had dropped, so I was out for 40 minutes instead of 35, but my Fitbit recorded the run as 5.35km! Getting closer to that 5k in 30 goal.
Week 8 is three runs of 28 minutes (again, with 5 minutes warm up/5 minutes cool down), so not a scarily large increase. For me, these last three weeks are about building my pace more than my stamina, because the increase in time isn’t that big when you think about it proportionately. My first run of week 8, I was out for 40 minutes (again, took me a bit longer to walk home due to drop in pace during the second half of the run). I was back on my normal route, so I know that I walked roughly 1km during this run. My total distance was 5.3km, which means I ran about 4.3km in 28 minutes! The second 28 minute run went very similarly. My FitBit said I ran further (4.88km!) but as the GPS wasn’t on as it wasn’t connected to my phone, I think that’s a bit of an overestimate sadly.
I realised at the start of Week 9 that, as I suspected, the Fitbit very much overestimates distance. So take all previous distances with a pinch of salt! Week 9 is the final week (woohoo!) and is three runs, each 30 minutes long. The first of the three runs I did I managed under 4k in the 30 minutes. Given that the day before I’d been sick and barely left the sofa, I decided that was a win. My second run I did just over 4k, which admittedly isn’t the best distance I’ve ever done, but I’d started a new route that has more in the way of hills, and I think to some extent I was still recovering from having been ill. Then, the heatwave hit. The one every British person on twitter is currently complaining about? Yeah. I don’t know what the weather is like where you’re from (you could be reading this anywhere in the world!) but it was hitting 30 degrees Celsius and above at the hottest points of the day (which was roughly 12-4). Plus, a family birthday meant I couldn’t go out in the morning as I usually would in this situation, because it would have thrown off plans for the rest of the day. So, that brings us to this morning (Wednesday, August 12, the day this is posted). I was determined to get my final run in by Wednesday afternoon, partly because otherwise it would’ve been like 4 days since my last run, but also partly because this post, tweets about this post, and pins about this post were due to go live on Wednesday and I didn’t want the hassle of switching all that around! So, here we are, on Wednesday morning. It’s so hot! I was hoping the morning would be mid-late teens, but by 8:30 it was already 21. I decided to put on a brave face and go anyway, but take a bottle of water with me! I changed my route halfway through so I was using more shaded paths, because it was just getting hotter and hotter. I managed to get through the entire 700ml of water in half an hour, which I was pretty shocked at, but I was so glad I’d taken it because I think I probably would’ve had to stop otherwise! It was a bit of a slog, especially the last ten minutes or so but… I did it! Not the 5K, but the 30 minutes. I ran for about 4.2km, so a little bit higher than my previous attempt which, given the heat, I wasn’t going to complain about. If you include the warm up and cool down walk, that brings my total distance to 5K, which was the goal I was personally aiming for by the end of the program!
Of course, the fitness journey doesn’t stop once you get the graduate trophy on the C25K app, so now I need to look to the future! I’m going to start adding in some different types of home workouts (mostly bodyweight because I don’t want to spend loads on equipment!), and keep up the running. My aim is to run at least twice per week — three times if I can, and incorporate the home workouts as well. My focus with running now is going to be increasing my pace, so I think I’m going to do some shorter runs (using earlier weeks from the C25K program) as well as doing the 30 minute runs to see if it’s possible for me to get to that 5K in 30! From doing some research though, the average pace for me (cis woman, 21) to run 5K would be a bit over 30 minutes, so I shall have to see if I can get to be better than average… Send me luck! Hope you are all keeping healthy during lockdown. What have you been doing to keep active? As well as running, I really enjoy going on local walks, or visiting parks for a change of scenery. Do you like scenic walks as well?